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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Primary message summed up in the Dolly Parton tagline: "Find out who you are, and do it on purpose!" Promotes positive self-image, forgiveness, friendship, empathy, actively asserting your uniqueness. Reinforces acceptance of diversity and atypical body size: "Every body is a swimsuit body."
Positive Role Models
Seemingly confident plus-size teen heroine keeps her insecurities to herself until she takes steps to challenge cultural norms. Result is the onset of true self-esteem, acceptance, empathy for others. Some played-for-humor stereotyping of beauty pageant participants, Southerners, drag queens, a non-"girly" teenage girl. Diversity within the cast.
Violence & Scariness
Off-camera punch in a teen boy's groin. Bullying and fat-shaming. Some arguing/heated exchanges.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Swearing includes one use of "f--k" and a couple instances of "s--t," plus "hell," "damn," "ta-tas," "butts." Occasional name-calling and fat-shaming: "whale," "pig" (accompanied by snorts), "fat ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are seated in a bar but aren't served alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dumplin' is a fun, inspirational comedy -- with a dramatic core -- about a plus-size teen (Danielle Macdonald) who challenges cultural norms when she signs up for the small-town Texas beauty pageant that her mother (Jennifer Aniston) manages. Based on Julie Murphy's 2015 YA book, the movie has lots to say about body image, self-confidence, empathy, acceptance, diversity, and tricky mother-daughter relationships. The humor, some of it based on good-natured stereotyping (Southerners, drag queens), is finely balanced with serious issues that are treated with insight and empathy. There's a bit of swearing, including "f--k" once and "s--t" twice. Fat-shaming (e.g., "whale," "pig") and bullying are also key elements of the story. The heroine punches a bully in the groin. Three teens are seated in a bar, though they aren't served alcohol. Expect a few romantic kisses and a troupe of supportive drag entertainers. A special highlight of the movie is the inclusion of Dolly Parton as an (offscreen) icon; her music serves as the movie's primary score. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, and always about self-acceptance, this movie will make you laugh and warm your heart. Rising above some predictability, stereotyping, and dispensable profanity, Dumplin' delivers bright performances (especially from the very talented Macdonald), sparkling musical numbers, a solid story, and a resolution that, while not surprising, is more than satisfying. Teens who are enjoying the profusion of romcoms now streaming, many of them on Netflix, will find Dumplin' a cut above the rest. It's recommended, particularly as a shared experience.
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